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The Souls of Animals Paperback – June 1, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Gary Kowalski helps us unlock the mysteries of animal spirituality.  For as we have learned from the companion animals that share our lives, when we look into their eyes we see our own humanity."  --Kim Stallwood, Executive Director, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)


"Gary Kowalski's voice is one that empowers us to say in public what we have thought in private--that animals love their companions, know grief and joy, and play and create.  They are truly our brothers and sisters in fur, feather and fin."  --Tom Regan, author of The Case for Animal Rights

From the Author

Many people think of soul as the element of personality that survives bodily death, but for me it refers to something much more down-to-earth.  Soul is the marrow of our existence as sentient, sensitive beings.  It's soul that's revealed in great works of art, and soul that's lifted up in awe when we stand in silence under a night sky burning with billions of stars.  When we speak of a soulful piece of music, we mean one that comes out of infinite depths of feeling.  When we speak of the soul of a nation, we mean its capacity for valor and visionary change.  "The soul," said psychoanalyst Carl Jung, "is partly in eternity and partly in time."  Soul is present whenever our lives intersect the dimension of the holy: in moments of intimacy, in flights of fancy, and in rituals that hallow the evanescent events of our lives with enduring significance.  Soul is what makes each of our lives a microcosm--not merely a meaningless fragment of the universe, but at some level a reflection of the whole.


No one can prove that animals have souls.  Asking for proof would be like demanding proof that I love my wife and children, or wanting me to prove that Handel's Messiah is a glorious masterpiece of music.  Some truths simply cannot be demonstrated.  But if we open our hearts to other creatures and allow ourselves to sympathize with their joys and struggles, we will find they have the power to touch and transform us.  There is an inwardness in other creatures that awakens what is innermost in ourselves.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: New World Library; 3rd edition (June 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1577315901
  • ISBN-13: 978-1577315902
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #162,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Reverend Gary Kowalski is the author of bestselling books on animals, nature, history and spirituality. A graduate of Harvard College and the Harvard Divinity School, his work has been translated into German, French, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Czech, appeared in periodicals like Tikkun and Yoga Journal, and been voted a "Reader's Favorite" by the Quality Paperback Book Club.

Whether investigating the emotional lives of other species, de-mystifying the faith of America's Founding Fathers, unpacking the Bible or pondering the frontiers of modern physics, Gary's work centers on the connection of spirit and nature ... acknowledging our kinship with each other and with a universe that is passionate, evolving and alive.

To contact Reverend Kowalski, visit his website at www.kowalskibooks.com.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

110 of 114 people found the following review helpful By Sara on May 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
I stumbled upon this book on accident. As an animal lover, it looked appealing to me though I expected it to be a generic, feel-good read. I was quite surprised! When I read the information that Kowalski had compiled, I cried. The chapters explore our questions on just how perceptive and emotional animals are. Do they feel a sense of love? Are they aware of death? Why do they play? When I read the stories that the author relates, such as the family of elephants who buried the dead and Koko the female lowland gorilla who learned American Sign Language, I was deeply moved. I had not purchased this book planning a lifestyle change but that is precisely what happened. Knowing what I do now about the intelligence and passion of animals, I am a vegetarian, living a happier, healthier life.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 5, 1999
Format: Paperback
Gary Kowalski is a Unitarian minister in Burlington, Vermont whose thinking and writing about animals and their spiritual lives is clear and powerful. To questions such as "Do Animals Experience Love?, "Are Animals Aware of Death?", Are Animals Conscious of Themselves?", "Do Animals Know Right From Wrong?" and "Do Animals Have Souls" Kowalski brings a rare blend of careful observation, personal insights, scientific understanding, and moral sensitivity. The Souls of Animals is a book that, chapter by chapter, teaches us to be more open to the possibility of our biological, psychological, and spiritual kinship with animals. In a university course that I teach on animal ethics students and I found this book provided a perspective and a "voice" that, too often, is discounted or neglected in ethical analyses and debates about humans' relationships and uses of animals. This book is pleasure to read and to think about.
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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful By bearlife@womyn.org on September 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
A very caring look at the the world we live in. A classic book on animal spirituality Gary regales us with tales of the lives of some of the creatures with which we share the planet. He ponders and causes us to stop and give thought as well on various qualities of animals. He details and presents instances of playfulness, capacity for love, altruism, and awareness of death, in our animal brethren. Gary is a Unitarian minister and in his book, he teaches us to be more open to the possibility of our biological, cerebral, and ethereal connection with animals
Leslie Blanchard
Editor A Writer's Choice Literary Journal
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
Gary Kowalski wrote a succint book about a subject that is verydear to me (being as I am a vegan and an ecologist). I appreciate thepondered yet caring way in which he writes. It will give you food for thought concerning our animal brothers and sisters under the sky. This book reminded me a lot of the absolutely fantastic 'When Elephants Weep',by Masson and McCarhy (I think) which I actually never got to finish reading because it depressed me too much (but I must finish it soon as the book is a masterpiece). I advise you to read 'The Souls of Animals' and to think about it (and to act accordingly).
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Format: Paperback
Do animals have souls, and do they experience spirituality as humans do? THE SOULS OF ANIMALS offers stories backed with science to show that other creates are sentient beings who also have spiritual lives. From the music of birds to the nature of elephants, THE SOULS OF ANIMALS utilizes numerous examples from nature to reveal evidence of animal spirituality.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Spudman TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 30, 2010
Format: Paperback
After our Evie died a few months ago I gave much thought to what happens to the animal spirit after death and even if animals have a spirit or sould that survives the body. I read "The Divine Life of Animals and found some comfort and confirmation there, but was motivated to keep searching for answers. This led me to "The Souls of Animals." It's an easy book to read, but not simplistic. It's a comforting book, and not condescending or dogmatic. I enjoyed the author's writing style and his obvious sense of compassion for those who have lost a beloved pet. Reading "Souls of Animals" over a span of two or three days (as I did) gives it even more impact.

Here is a book one can't help but want to recommend or share with another.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By "chrismcowan" on February 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
Mr. Kowalski's book is excellent. If your're an animal lover or simply want a great read, you will enjoy this book. It's not just another man's opinion, but a well cited and researched work. Kowalski shows humans are not the only sentient beings on this planet.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mikey on June 18, 2013
Format: Paperback
I confess myself disappointed with this book. While the author mentions that he is not indulging in anthropomorphism - he then does nothing but... He tells one soft hearted story after another claiming that these animals are doing what they do because of their love of music or the love of their companions - while it makes perfect sense I have two main complaints.
1. That these notions are best left up to the individual to derive meaning from since encounters with animals are often a very personal interaction with nature and the universe.
2. His insights and the conclusions he draws from the behavior of animals is a shortcut to thinking. Personally I find the behavior of animals to be more in alignment with the flow of energy in the universe not some individual egoistic predilection (I refer to "some bovines like Bach, some like to boogie")

This is not a serious look at the souls of animals - if it were he would have to also look at the soul of everything around us - if there is consciousness in animals then there is also consciousness in plants, in rocks, in water...Which there is - but he has not gone there - the depth of his exploration is shallow.
Additionally he describes himself (as a pastor) as a "late 20th century shaman". Having personally apprenticed myself to an actual shaman for over 10 years I find this to be laughable - it takes more than a slipshod exploration of some basic questions about the "meaning of life" to be a shaman. He waffles on about the watering down of the word soul citing books such as "chicken soup for the soul" , then waters down the true nature of shamanism with this assertion. His biggest error is his propensity to draw meaning from the situations he describes in a way where he makes out he knows what's really going on...
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